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Happy Thursday (or should I say “Friday Eve.”)  Alright, so you know how I love things that end in “punk” — Steampunk, Elfpunk, Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal…

Well, today we welcome author Jess C. Scoot who writes Cyberpunk Elves.  She’s going to tell us a bit about Cyberpunk.

Jess C. Scott identifies herself as an author/artist/non-conformist. Her literary work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, such as Word Riot, ITCH Magazine, and The Battered Suitcase. She is currently working on a YA “seven deadly sins” series, as well as The Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy.

Pondering “Cyberpunk”

by Jess C. Scott

BOOK SUMMARY: A thieving duo’s world turns upside down when an Elven rogue uncovers the heinous dealings of a megacorporation.

My upcoming publication is an urban fantasy project titled, The Other Side of Life [Book #1 in the (Cyberpunk) Elven Trilogy].

I admit that I was running around in the beginning, blabbing (to close friends only) about how I was going to embark on a project featuring “cyberpunk elves.”

I was familiar with one of the core definitions of cyberpunk—its focus on “high tech and low life.” I was aware of the visual imagery and stylized, super-urban settings too.

Along the way (about halfway through editing the third draft—I am currently on my fourth round of revision, and might go right up to 6 or 7 before I’m satisfied), I started to wonder more about the soul of cyberpunk. I watched the cyberpunk anime series Serial Experiments Lain some years ago when I was 16 (I’m now 24). While it wasn’t my favorite anime of all time (that’d be the historical/adventure-themed Rurouni Kenshin), I distinctly remembered the feel of Lain.

Cyberpunk elves make great concept art for games and films (multi-sensory mediums). But I had to ponder on it a little bit more, since I was working on a book (and the book cover, but that was just a side issue). I didn’t want to run along with cool-sounding labels, at the expense of the actual treatment of the plot and characters. And I didn’t want the characters/plot elements to be too clichéd (both the urban fantasy and cyberpunk aspects).

So apart from some of the more obvious cyberpunk traits, such as the elves’ tech proficiency, and status as self-identified social outcasts within their Elven world—I aimed to capture “cyberpunk” via the actual interaction between the characters (amongst humans, elves, as well as elves and humans).

It’s that whole interplay between the influence of technology on the human/social aspect, and the individual’s struggle for an awareness of how he/she has been impacted by technology, which I have been focusing on (a tie-in with the love story in the plot).

The following excerpt (Nin is the Elven rogue/leader) captures some of this:

“That’s sad. How plastic and artificial life has become. It gets harder and harder to find something…real.” Nin interlocked his fingers, and stretched out his arms. “Real love, real friends, real body parts…”

While I enjoy the many elements of cyberpunk, it is the deeper, reflective aspects of the genre which engage and intrigue me the most—where one doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not; where one cannot tell good from evil; where one experiences an overwhelming feeling of profound shock at the realization of something significant/important. Hence the title of this post: “Pondering ‘Cyberpunk’.”

Also, I enjoy the challenge of distilling that into a simple storytelling style that’s spiritual without being preachy.

Which reminds me of a quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

–Jess C. Scott

—————

P.S. Jess is offering a free PDF copy of the novel to early reviewers (open to readers worldwide)! More details @ http://elventrilogy.wordpress.com/

Website: www.jesscscott.com
Book Site: http://www.elventrilogy.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jesscscott

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jesscscott

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Today we welcome Author Zoë Archer She will be giving away a copy of SCOUNDREL to one lucky commenter. Contest closes Sunday, October 24th, 2010 at 11:59 pm PST.

Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. Her BLADES OF THE ROSE series—featuring dashing men and fearless women—is available now. Zoë and her husband live in Los Angeles.

Technology in Blades of the Rose

When I started writing my BLADES OF THE ROSE series, my goal wasn’t to write steampunk romance. What I planned on writing, what I wanted to write, were books that defied romance categorization. I set out to create romances that I always longed for but never saw on the shelves. The BLADES books would have action, adventure, exotic locations, magic, history, and a healthy amount of hot love scenes.

I conceived of the Blades of the Rose as a secret organization of men and women who travel the globe seeking and protecting the world’s magic from theft and exploitation. In essence, they are a spy team acting on behalf of magic rather than the interests of any one nation. To make things interesting—and difficult—the Blades cannot use magic that isn’t theirs by gift or right. Of course, the villains of these books have no qualms about stealing and using magic to further their goals of world domination. Which leaves the Blades at a distinct disadvantage.

Thinking about the spy team model, I decided that the Blades needed a Q. If you remember, Q supplies James Bond and other members of the British Secret Service with diabolical gadgets to aid them in their espionage. Some of Q’s awesome inventions include car ejector seats, dagger shoes, rings concealing cameras and deadly pens, just to name a few. In the Bond films, 007 stopped by Q’s lab, and an exasperated Q would demonstrate the latest in gadgetry, followed by a stern admonition for Bond to please not destroy the merchandise. Of course, Bond always used the gadgets and they almost always were destroyed during the course of the mission. Poor Q.

I wanted the Blades to have their very own Q. But instead of a research and development team headed by a single man, the Blades had the Graves family—several generations of scientific and mechanical geniuses who utilize the current technology to assist the Blades in their work. The key there is current technology. Why? Because the first four BLADES OF THE ROSE books are set between 1874 and 1875.

Here is where the steampunk element comes into play. Catullus Graves, the current scion of the Graves family, does not use any magic when inventing devices. Nor does he have difference engines, robots or any other advanced technology. He is limited solely to what is available in the mid 1870s. Not only that, but because the Blades take his inventions out into the field, the devices he builds must be portable and easy to use at a moment’s notice. To put it plainly, steam-powered mechanisms are out. It would be far too cumbersome for a Blade to haul around a steam engine when adventuring in the wilds of Mongolia (as they do in WARRIOR), sailing the Aegean (SCOUNDREL), trekking through the rugged Canadian Rockies (REBEL), or journeying to undiscovered lands (STRANGER).

I’m going to straight up own right now that I had my own scientific genius helping me in the conception and design of Catullus Graves’s diabolical gadgets: my husband. He and I would brainstorm ideas for cool devices that could only use late Victorian technology, with my husband’s scientific understanding helping to fill in the gaps of how something worked. Liberties were taken. I don’t know if the implements created by Catullus could actually work. But they are, at least, plausible. Sometimes, the idea for the gadget came first, and then we’d think about a scenario in which the gadget could be used. Sometimes, a situation in the plot would arise and the challenge came to see what kind of device might be useful. Both approaches were a blast to write and add a cool element to each book.

Catullus even gets his own book—and I knew, without a doubt, that I would have to put him in a scenario where he needs to “MacGyver” his way out of a tough situation using only items on hand. What kind of things does Catullus invent and what do the Blades use in the field? I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment in discovering these gadgets, so you’ll have to read the books to find out.

It’s been suggested that the BLADES OF THE ROSE books are steampunk. That might be overstating the case too much. If you’re looking for airships, clockwork robots and ether-guns, you won’t find them in my series. But what you will find is adventure, magic, danger, hot romance and very fun gadgets, which I think is a blueprint for a rollicking good time.

— Zoë Archer

www.zoearcherbooks.com
http://twitter.com/Zoe_Archer
http://www.facebook.com/#!/zoe.archer1

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Today is the last day you can enter to win a copy of Arthur Slade’s new steampunk Tween thriller “The Dark Deeps.”

Also, tune in Monday, October 4th, 2010, when we announce the lineup for our 2010 Halloween Author Invasion (and what exactly the author invasion is.) Be very afraid (but be excited, too.)

Today we welcome Lolita Leanna, aka Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the “Percy Parker” Gaslamp Romance series.  “A Christmas Carroll” aka “Percy Parker 2 1/2” will be featured in the anthology A MIDWINTER FANTASY which is an ebook to be released by Dorchester.  At the moment Dorchester has delayed the ebook’s release, but if you follow Leanna on Twitter, she’ll let you know when the ordering link goes live.

Gaslight Musings: Building on Your Atmosphere – Leanna Renee Hieber’s latest Strangely Beautiful venture:

It should be no secret that what draws readers to Steampunk, to Gaslight and also to the Gothic is atmosphere. Our favourite works are full of rich atmosphere and intense world-building. One of the important yet tricky things in writing series fiction, particularly if it’s fantastical, paranormal or all of the above, is coming up with ways in which your world still maintains its conventions but also grows in richness, complexity, conflict and intrigue. I think one of the best ways to do this is to make sure that if you introduce a new convention, to be sure that it comes from within the world you’ve already built rather than tacking on something new. Also, the beauty of series fiction allows us to dive deeper into secondary characters, and deeper into the world’s details, where these new flowers can really bloom.

In thinking of new aspects to introduce in “A Christmas Carroll” which serves as Strangely Beautiful series #2.5, featured in A MIDWINTER FANTASY anthology, I knew I needed something new within my spirit world, what I call the Whisper-World.

What I came up with was The Liminal. You’ll see it described in the brief excerpt below, and I didn’t realize until I wrote it that it’s a very Steampunk detail. The Liminal clock keeps magic mortal time; its hands are vast and the barrel tells the year, shifting its great lens to show its charges the necessary scene in any moment in time. But it is still a part of the Whisper-World; a place I’ve described as mysterious, vast and shifting, beholden to powers over life and death that mere mortals can only guess at. The Liminal fit into that premise smoothly.

I love writing series fiction for all of the reasons I’ve mentioned. I love getting the chance to give secondary characters their due, and I adore taking the world I’ve built and simmering further in it; not just the skin and bones but the marrow of the world. I hope you’ll enjoy A MIDWINTER FANTASY, which just released on the 28th! Each of the stories in the anthology features a respective world that the author has built upon for at least two series books. Please note, due to changes at Dorchester Publishing this is a digital / eBook release ONLY. Future books will be released in Trade Paperback, but the transition at Dorchester has caught this book without paperback printing of any kind.

Here’s a tiny excerpt involving The Liminal, Strangely Beautiful’s new world-building detail:

From “A Christmas Carroll” featured in A MIDWINTER FANTASY anthology:

Prologue – December 1888, at the edge of London’s reality

Three spirits murmured to each other, standing in the luminous Liminal that separated the waiting Whisper-world from the dazzling, drawing light of the Great Beyond.  The Whisper-world was quite the grey purgatory, while the Great Beyond, well…who possesses the words to describe Paradise?

The Liminal is a place where magic is discussed and made, from whence spirits receive duties and inspiration, where dreams are both created and abandoned. Where those who are worthy might become angels. It is a place where time is porous and malleable; it keeps its own clock. Here pasts are recaptured and futures glimpsed; here spirits from every walk of death—those still invested in parties on Earth—discuss their current designs on the living, for better or for worse.

The present trio at the Liminal edge was shrouded in shadow, and they contemplated parties in London, England, under the reign of Queen Victoria. Their clothing, too, represented various decades within Her Highness’ extensive reign, long may she live. The spirits stood before a living portrait rendered by exquisite hands: the vast proscenium of an elaborate stage dwarfed their spirit trio. The set scene laid wide before them was a stately school on a moonlit night, dim, eerie, engaging…and awaiting its players.”

For more about Leanna Renee Hieber, the Strangely Beautiful saga and A MIDWINTER FANTASY:

www.leannareneehieber.com

www.twitter.com/leannarenee

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan

– Strangely Beautiful Blessings!

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There’s only a few days left to enter to win the gear ring.

Today we welcome debut YA Author T.K. Richardson, author of Return the Heart, which is now available.

Return the Heart is T.K. Richardson’s debut novel, and like much of her writing, is subtly influenced by her love of Russian history and literature. Raised on the West Coast, she improves the lives of children near and far by advocating for abused and neglected children in her community, as well as sponsoring a Christian based orphanage in India. She lives with her husband and children in California where she is at work on her next novel.

To a casual passerby, Lilly Paige is anything but special. As a seventeen year old, she is faced with all the complications of a teenager, but deep down there is much more. Lilly has a gift, though sometimes it seems to be a curse.

Lilly can peer into the hearts of others – their deepest, darkest secrets are there for Lilly to see – but to what end? Raised by aloof parents, Lilly has been independent her whole life, but soon she will need to rely on her friends to evade an evil that has sold her gift to the highest bidder on the black market. Lilly and her four closest friends are immersed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, that will not only reveal more about Lilly’s gift, but also her link to an old Russian prophecy.

Can Lilly and her friends escape the danger that is so close they can practically feel it? Where will their perilous journey lead them – to darkness or light?

Lolita Suzanne: Welcome, thank you so much for visiting us here at Steamed! today. Congratulations on your first release. Can you share the story of “the Call”, the “email” or how you broke through into publishing with us?

T.K. Anderson: Like so many other writers I queried for what seemed like forever. Finally, when I felt the manuscript and I were both ready I sought out different publishers to submit to. I’m very happy with my publisher and the work they have put into Return the Heart.

LS: The cover is absolutely beautiful. Now, can you tell us what your book is about?

TKA: Return the Heart is the story of 17 year old Lilly Paige who has the secret gift of reading the heart. When that gift is exposed and sold on the black market she discovers her gift is more than the target of criminal obsession – it’s somehow linked to an old, Russian prophecy.

LS: Ooh, who doesn’t love a good prophecy? What inspired this story?

TKA: Return the Heart was inspired by my children, my love for Russian history and literature, and a desire to create a captivating story that would delight teens. What followed is a story filled with action, secret gifts, a seedy underworld, and more twists and revelations than the reader expects. Toss in a Russian element and Return the Heart is like an action movie about teens and for teens.

LS: I confess, I am an utter and total folklore nerd. What genre would you characterize this story as and why?

TKA: The book is intended for young adults, but I’m finding that people of all ages, from 10 to 92, are reading and enjoying the book. As an author I am very excited that the story is reaching so many different people and age groups.

LS: That’s really great. I love finding stories everyone can enjoy. When it comes to actually writing a story, are you a plotter or a pantser?

TKA: Oh, I’m definitely a panster. I’ve tried outlining before and I’ve tried plotting the story, but I work better when I just wing it and let the story take on a life of its’ own. It’s more fun that way, too. Of course, it probably makes it harder when I’m editing, but it’s the price I’m willing to pay.

LS: Hehehe, I’m a pantser, too, and seeing the story and characters take on a life of their own is half the fun. Do you have a favorite character?

TKA: Hmm… Well, I really love all the characters, so I don’t have a favorite. Each has qualities that I find admirable and that I love.

LS: If your characters went on summer vacation where would they go?

TKA: They might go to Disneyland, or the beach, or somewhere most any other teens would enjoy going.

LS: Do you have any writing habits/quirks/superstitions?

TKA: I don’t think I do, but my family may think differently. I do like to write at night, though. I love it when the dark surrounds everything and blankets my world in mystery and shadows. It’s my ideal time for writing, and it’s quiet.

LS: Quiet can be a good thing, especially when there are kiddos around, lol. Did you always want to be a writer?

TKA: No, I never dreamed of being a writer and it was never something on my list of things I wanted to be. One day the main character, Lilly, “appeared” and I rushed to write her down. Six weeks later the first draft of my first novel was complete, and I’ve been writing ever since. I love it, and I wouldn’t change the way it came about. Although I never dreamed of being a writer, I can see that my love for reading and history really prepared me and opened the door for my writing.

LS: Those dang, pushy characters, lol. Where would we writers be without them? You mentioned your love of reading, what authors inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite authors now?

TKA: Growing up I was really inspired by history and biographies. Corrie ten Boom and Chaim Potok were probably my favorite authors and very influential as a kid. As an adult my favorite authors are Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gogol –all Russian authors from the past. To me their work is the pinnacle of writing, outside of the Bible.

LS: Okay, last question. If you could be stranded on an island with one fictional character who would it be and why?

TKA: Oh, that’s a tough question. I think it would be Prince Andrey from War and Peace by Tolstoy. I always had a secret crush on him and I wished his story was happier. He’s one of my very favorite characters and one that has stayed with me.

Thank you so much for joining us today, and we wish you the best of luck on your release.

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I had the opportunity to interview Ben Winters, author of such mashup novels from Quirk such as Android Karenina and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Here’s the book trailer for “Android Karenina.” In case you missed our recent book review, it’s a “mashup” where Ben has taken the text of Tolstoy’s classic and Steampunked it.

Q&A with Author Ben Winters

Lolita Suzanne: Hi Ben! Thank you so much for agreeing to visit us.

Ben Winters: Oh, my pleasure! Thanks for having me!

LS: So, Ben, have you always wanted to be a writer?

BW: Oh, sure, although my original ambitions were mostly geared writing for performance. I was always in bands, writing lyrics, and after college I spent some time doing mostly mediocre standup comedy; eventually I ended up as a journalist, and spent half a decade or so writing for the theater. These days my primary focus is on fiction.

LS: How did you get into writing mash-ups? What are the unique challenges to this particular genre that you wouldn’t find in say…urban fantasy?

BW: I got into mash-ups by the most wonderful serendipity imaginable. I was living in Philadelphia for one year, about four years ago, for reasons having to do with my wife’s career. Our little apartment in Old City, on Church Street, was across the street from a small publisher called Quirk Books.

I pitched one thing they didn’t take; edited a book for them that never got published, and finally ended up writing a bunch of the Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide books for them. So when Quirk needed a writer to follow up on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they brought me in to do Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It was such a blast to write, I was delighted when they were interested in having me do another.

LS: But Steampunk Tolstoy? Really? How did you come up with that? They seem to be worlds apart. What came first–the Steampunk or the Tolstoy?

BW: Actually, Tolstoy is more steampunk than you might think. At least, his work is obsessed with the ways the new technologies of his time were changing the landscape of society. Interestingly, at one point in Anna Karenina, Anna refers to her cold, uncaring husband as “a machine.” So all I did was amplify an existing theme of the book: how technology is this powerful, violent force, which can make our lives vastly easier and/or destroy us all.

LS: Are you a Steampunk fan? A Tolstoy fan? What research did you have to do in writing this book?

BW: Oh, I’ve always loved Tolstoy. I first read Anna as well as War and Peace while in college. My favorite is a smaller book, one of his first, called Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. It’s one of those books where you read it and feel like everything he’s describing — about growing up, about family, and first love, all of it — he somehow got into your head and plucked out directly.

Before this project, i was familiar with steampunk more as an sartorial/design concept, rather than as a literary genre, but I’ve now had ample opportunity to study and appreciate the whole incredible culture. I went to the Steampunk World’s Fair to do a reading, and I was just blown away by the range of imagination on display, from the gleefully silly to the grim and dark. I’m a big fan of speculative fiction in general — the idea of tugging on one strand of history and seeing how the tapestry is altered.

LS: How long did it take you to write Android Karenina?

BW: Oh, about a year. Including months of — sorry, this was actually your last question — reading: reading and re-reading the original text a lot, but also immersing myself in great sci-fi, everything from Isaac Asimov to Philip K. Dick to Iain Banks to Battlestar Galactica.

LS: Can you tell me about how (and why) you conceived the “Iron Laws of Robot Behavior?” I have to say those made me very happy. 🙂 Did you come up with them before you wrote the story? Or did they emerge as you crafted it?

BW: Hmmm — I think they emerged as I was writing. The Iron Laws are obviously an homage to Asimov, who was (like Tolstoy!) deeply interested in the relationship between man and technology.

I was interested, as legions of sci-fi writers have been before me, in the question of how we can create super-intelligent, human-like machines, without running the risk of rebellion. With all the corollary questions such as, How do we treat them humanely? How much responsibility can we give them? What does it do to our own “humanness” to rely on human-like machines? And etc.

LS: So…how much has Asimov influenced you? What other authors do you admire? What sort of books do you read?

BW: Allow me to be totally obnoxious and answer with a link; I did this blog post for Quirk about my influences in writing the book

LS: Can you tell us what’s next? Cyberpunk Dickens perhaps?

BW: Well, I know Quirk has plans to continue the series, but I’m taking a breather from mash-up land. My next book is a young adult novel about a punk-rock Band and a Chorus teacher.

LS: Congrats on the YA book. It’s always nice to have other young adult writers on.

BW: And for the record, I wouldn’t mash-up Charles Dickens with a ten foot masher-upper stick. His work is already so heightened in so many ways, it would be foolhardy to add a new, over-the-top concept to it.

LS: Hmmm….I keep having visions of Fagin and his thieves with green mohawks, motorcycles, and bionic limbs….

Thank you so much for visiting Steamed!, Ben. We appreciate you taking the time to visit us.

BW: Happy to be here! Please let your readers know how much I’ve enjoyed getting to play in the steampunk universe.

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Happy Monday.  I have a new book review for you today.

First off, congratulations to author Paolo Bacigalupi . His novel The Windup Girl won the 2010 Nebula Award.

I’m also having some major tiara envy.  I saw this on Etsy. Isn’t it darling? I know, I own two clockhand tiaras, but there’s something about this one I really like. Maybe it’s the snowflake?

The Steamed blog (and my upcoming book) were also mentioned on the Romantic Times blog. Squee.

I have a few more copies of issue 6 of Steampunk Tales. If you want one, just let me know in the comment box.

On to today’s book review. I have to say, I do adore these books and I can’t wait for the next one.

Changeless by Gail Carriger.

The fearless, yet well-dressed and ever-so-proper Alexia Tarabotti is back in this second novel of the highly entertaining Parasol Protectorate series. This time, Alexia is off to Scotland with her bratty sister, her best friend Ivy and Ivy’s collection of horrid hats in search for her missing husband and to solve the mystery of why supernaturals in London are loosing their powers.

Like in Soulless, adventures and entertaining characters abound in the wild romp into the Scottish highlands. Alexia travels aboard a dirigible, uses an aethographic transmitter, brings her rather unusual parasol wherever she goes, and befriends the inventor Madame Lefoux who (gasp) wears trousers. There are also Weres in kilts (who doesn’t love a Were in a kilt?), plenty witty banter, marvelous gadgets, and more world building (the octopi from book one are finally explained).

Ah, the gadgets. Where would a Steampunk story be without the gadgets? Besides the aethographic transmitter and dirigible, there are dart guns, glassicals, and a parasol fit for a Victorian 007 (I want one!)

The new characters are very colorful, such as Madame Lefoux, but we still see our favorites like Ivy, the Professor, and the wildly flamboyant Lord Akeldama. The relationship between Lord Maccon and Alexia starts out as sweet and funny, but as the end approached I found myself wishing I could smack him with my parasol.

Like the first book, I found Changeless to be an entertaining read with a well thought out Steampunk world, clever characters, and witty dialogue. The combination of Steampunk and paranormal is what, to me, makes this series so much fun.

The ending has a twist that may not set well with some readers. I didn’t mind and it made me wish Blameless were out sooner than September so I could find out what happened next (though I still want to smack Lord Maccon.)

Happy reading.

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Today’s guest Lolita is Emilie P. Bush, author of Chenda and the Airship Broffman. Let’s give her a warm Steampunkapalooza welcome. She’ll be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky poster.

Emilie P. Bush’s novel Chenda and the Airship Brofman is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, Powell’s Books, and at several upcoming personal appearances at Sci-Fi conventions, including AnachroCon (Atlanta), Steampunk World’s Fair (Piscataway, New Jersey), Marcon (Columbus, Ohio), ConCarolinas/ Deep South Con (Charlotte, NC) and DragonCon (Atlanta).

Hi! I’m Emilie P. Bush. Long time reader, first time guest blogger.
Thanks to STEAMED! for giving me this opportunity. Now that you’ve given me the soap box, I’m just going to scramble up onto it and put in my plug for independent writers of Steampunk.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Steampunk began as a literary movement – long before many of us were born. I’ve often said that Steampunk is the love child of Mary Shelley, Nicola Tesla, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells (and that’s some weird love geometry, to be sure). The genes are sure there. (All of the works of Shelley, Vern and Wells are available for free in digital formats – and are soworth the reading!)  Then there are the true Steampunk classics — the roots of the modern movement: Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Jeter’s Infernal Devices, and Blaylock’s Homunculus, among many others.

In the last several years, the genre has exploded. Short Stories, periodicals, novella’s and novels. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is nominated for a Hugo this year! The work is good and plentiful.

Which brings me to the point. I’m a self published author, releasing late last year Chenda and the Airship Brofman. Several years ago, self publishing was the literary equivalent of dressing a hooker up and taking her to the prom. It’s what people who couldn’t get published by “real” publishing houses did. In recent years, the taboo about self publishing has changed, and for a very Steampunk reason. Nothing can stop the cream from rising to the top. The tastes of readers can change faster than the process of traditional publishers. Fueled by the can-do attitude that runs through the Steampunk society, I went for it.

And then, when my little masterpiece, my precious baby snowflake was finished, I let it go out into the world. There were good reviews and great reviews, and copies stared to sell to people who weren’t friends of my mom. E-mails from strangers came in telling me how much they liked the book! There’s nothing like a little positive feedback to let a writer know they are not just self deluding ego maniacs.

To be sure, self publishing is a hard row to hoe. Traditional publishing houses are very good at two things – marketing and distribution. In the digital age, distribution has become a snap for the independent author – thanks in no small part to Amazon.com and similar sites. Marketing is left in the author’s hands. The Internet can help there too, but one has to be willing to go out, each and every day, to put that precious snowflake into the light. No mistake, this is a JOB.

Looking to get a little more exposure earlier this year, I entered Chenda and the Airship Brofman into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Just me and 9,999 others. After several rounds of cuts, my little Steampunk adventure tale is a Quarterfinalist. The next round of cuts is TODAY. I’m thrilled and nauseated at the same time. Somewhere along the line, this ABNA competition became important to me. Personal.

I started to write Chenda out of a strange compulsion – feeling like I would die a horrible death or something if I didn’t write. The adventure flew out of me, and I was taking this shell of a woman out of her element, breaking down her world, roughing her up and sending her aloft on an airship. She traveled to places she never thought she would see and accepted a gift from the gods themselves. In the end, she became stronger, and finally became commander of her own life.

Like Chenda, I am looking for my place in the literary world, and I am choosing my own path to get there. I’m working hard, and pushing with my can – do attitude. I ask you now to take a look at some of the good independent Steampunk literature available on line and in periodicals like Steampunk Tales and Steampunk Magazine. They are bargains in e-formats (from FREE to a buck or two each – $3 for the Kindle version of my book) and well worth your time.

I also challenge you to recommend what you like. Twitter, Facebook and tap out your new finds in Morse code to anyone who’s listening. There’s more good independent Steampunk stuff out there to shout about. So, have your own adventure, find some hidden treasures and spread the word!

*~*~*~*

Thank you so much, Emilie, for visiting us today.  Good luck!

Emilie is giving away a copy of her book.  To win, simply post a comment or question for Emilie.  Contest closes on Friday, April 30th at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced Monday, May 3rd.

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Today is a very special day. We are helping O.M. Grey release her new book Avalon Revisited. But first…

If you live in the Los Angeles Area, on May 15th, 2010 the Los Angeles Romance Writers will be hosting National Bestselling Author Bob Mayer and his Warrior Writer Workshop at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood. This is a fantastic workshop for writers of all levels. For more information please go here.

Also, I’d like to announce the winner of the “ear wings” from Creative Habits.

…drum roll please…

*~*~*RACHEL*~*~*

Rachel, congratulations, you’ve won a pair of ear wings.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail so you can get your prize.

You can still win a copy of Regina Riely’s book and goodies from Elizabeth Darvill (Lolita Elizabeth).

Now, on to today’s visiting lolita. I am very excited to welcome author O.M. Grey. To help celebrate the release of her new book, Avalon Revisited she’ll be giving away this yummy basket of goodies to one lucky poster. (Wow, it makes me wish *I* were eligible, lol).

O. M. Grey is rather camera shy and is a complete novice when it comes to modern technology. She prefers to live in the cobwebbed corners of her dark mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or tending the garden or drinking a hot cup of tea. Her first book Avalon Revisited was just released.

Big Bouncing Bustles

That fashion oddity known as the bustle originated in the mid-19th century, and albeit short-lived, nothing screams Victorian quite like the bustle. It lasted only a few decades, moving from its original crinolined petticoat in the late 1860s to the exaggerated form that nearly reached ridiculous proportions in the 1880s, wherein my story Avalon Revisited takes place, to disappearing altogether by 1906. The bustle is indeed a brief fashion trend that has not been seen before or since in mainstream styles, but it is ever so delightful. Thankfully for us all, the bustle is making a comeback on the fringe of our modern society through the Steampunk movement.

With high collars, covered ankles, and even skirted chairs, sexual repression was certainly at its height in the Victorian Era. Not even the Goody-Two Shoes of the Fifties can compare. And as repression goes, when something essential or natural is repressed to such a large degree, it comes out in rather odd, often sick & demented, ways. The brothels of Madame Jeffries are a perfect example (and I got some truly demented history from her. Yes, friends, the Chamber of Horrors in Avalon Revisited is historically accurate).

Although meant to exaggerate the form of the hidden female body in such stifled times, the bustle is quite charming. With it gathering of material down the backside of a lady’s dress, it most certainly draws the eye and attention there. The bigger the bustles became, the more eyes were transfixed by their swaying, bouncing beauty.

This is likely why my antihero protagonist, Arthur, loves bustles so very much, as his attention is always in that general area anyway. Actually, love is rather an understatement. The undead chap is quite simply obsessed with the bustle. Baby just needs quite a bit more back, it seems.

So bustles abound in Avalon Revisited, as do airships, vampire hunters & their modern gadgets, and perhaps even a mad scientist for good measure.

Perhaps through Steampunk Paranormal Romance stories like my Avalon Revisited, Katie MacAlister’s Steamed!, and Regina Riley’s Clockworks & Corsets, we’ve birthed an entirely new romance trend. Instead of bodice rippers… let’s have more bustle bouncers.

One certainly gets a decent dose of bustle bouncing in Avalon Revisited…

About the book:
Arthur has made his existence as a vampire bearable for over three hundred years by immersing himself in blood and debauchery. Aboard an airship gala, he meets Avalon, an aspiring vampire slayer who sparks fire into Arthur’s shriveled heart. Together they try to solve the mystery of several horrendous murders on the dark streets of London. Cultures clash and pressures rise in this sexy Steampunk Romance.

Allow me to I offer a special thanks to the fine artisans who donated their wares to my Steampunk Gift Basket & other prizes. Your generosity will not be soon forgotten.
Please visit their shops:
PH_Factor: (Steampunk Goggles)
RowanOfTheWood: (Steampunk & Dark Fantasy Jewelry)

Thank you so much for visiting us, today! We wish you all the best with you new book, it sounds fab. Who doesn’t love vampires, airships, and bustles?

To be entered to win the amazing gift basket, simply leave a comment or question below. You can receive extra entries by blogging/facebooking/twittering about today’s release party or by joining her facebook group, joining the Steamed! facebook or by following the Steamed! blog. (Already being a member/following counts, just tell us.) Just let us know what activities you participated in, one entry per activity. Contest ends Tuesday at 11:59 pm PST. Winners will be announced on Thursday, April 29th.

Keep tuning in for more great guests as the month of April, and Steampunkapalooza, comes to a close. Tomorrow, Sunday, April 25th we have debut YA author Kate Milford. Tuesday, April 27th, author Emilie P. Bush stops by. Thursday, April 29th we’re please to welcome the creators of the Girl Genius comic. Diana Vick from Steamcon visits on Friday, April 30th. Lolita Marie-Claude and Lolita Elizabeth will be running off to the Romantic Times Convention and will be giving us updates and pictures. Thank you so much for joining us today, come back and visit!

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Hold on to your fishnets, today’s visiting Lolitas are the one and only Smutketeers! (Today’s interview may not be appropriate for those with delicate sensibilities or under the age of majority.)

Lolita Suzanne: Welcome to Steamed! and thanks for helping us celebrate our birthday by being part of Steampunkapalooza. Could you please introduce yourselves and what you write?

Eden: I’m Eden Bradley, also soon to be published as Eve Berlin with Berkley Heat, and I’m the oldest of the Smutketeers-everyone’s big sister. Or grandma, depending on the day and how badly the others are misbehaving. I write contemporary, futuristic and paranormal erotica and erotic romance (so far, anyway), with a specialty in the kinky stuff. Well, not everything I write is kinky. Um… I suppose it depends on your definition of kinky…but I digress. I write for Bantam/Delta, Harlequin Spice, Berkley Heat, Samhain Publishing and Phaze Publishing. I love long walks on the beach, younger men, art, books and stiletto heels, not necessarily in that order. And Steampunk everything, of course!

Lilli: I’m Lilli Feisty. I think I’ve written a bit of everything: romantic comedy, light paranormal, urban fantasy… but my main focus is contemporary spicy romance. When it comes to my sex scenes, people often ask if it’s based on personal experience. Well, the answer is, pretty much! 🙂 I write for Grand Central Publishing, Harlequin Spice Briefs, Samhain and Ellora’s Cave. I’m the bad girl of the group. I’m the one you’ll find at the back of the bar, lounging in a chair smoking a cigar and waiting for one of Eden’s studs to bring me a cocktail. 🙂 I also cuss like a sailor. Mmm. Sailors. That’s the only reason I take long walks on the beach. 🙂 I also am obsessed with music, dancing and writing really horrid poetry.

Crystal: I’m Crystal Jordan…I write a little bit of everything that’s dirty, but mostly paranormal and futuristic erotic romance. Pretty much anything that allows me to say, “Well, it’s MY world and I say they can do it that way. It doesn’t matter if people can’t do that in real life. I get to make it up as I go along!” I’m the bossy one of the bunch, don’t you know? My publishers are Kensington Aphrodisia, Harlequin Spice Briefs, Samhain Publishing, and Ellora’s Cave. I’m happy to take a long walk on the beach with Eden and olge her younger men, but she can keep her four inch heels. I go barefoot (except for cute nail polish)!

R.G.: I’m R.G. Alexander and I AM the innocent one of the group. Don’t listen when they tell you I write mostly paranormal ménage and more—it’s all lies and slander. Okay…maybe not. I write for Berkley Heat, Samhain, and Ellora’s Cave. I would probably be watching Eden and Crystal walk on the beach with those studs as I spend hours trying to make the perfect sandcastle with my hubby. 🙂

Eden: Okay—R.G. is hardly innocent. Just sayin’. And just to clarify, I have ONE younger man and am blissfully happy with him, so there’s no need for anyone to lock up their sons. And my fellow Smutketeers are welcome to ogle my younger man any time they like. And Feisty, you know he’ll happily bring you a cocktail.:)

LS:  Well, I’m so glad you all can join us today.  How did you come up with the name “The Smuketeers” and your clever catch phrase “All for Smut and Smut for All?”

Eden: R.G. found a website that addressed the different psychological profiles of the four Musketeers, and she matched each of them to one of us. Then she was talking about doing a sci-fi series called ‘Smutketeers in Space’ with characters based on each of us, which we all thought was hysterical. That somehow turned into a Steampunk idea (R.G.’s agent is currently shopping that proposal).

How did we come up with ‘All for Smut and Smut for All’? We have a lot of four-way phone conversations (we all live in different areas of the country) and that was one of those strange, organic things that just happen with us a lot. You get the four of us on the phone together and anything can happen-it often devolves into something smutty from there. A lot of erotic fiction authors fondly refer to themselves as smut peddlers, so that term is tossed around a lot, and it seemed natural for us. I truly can’t remember who came up with the term ‘Smutketeers’ (maybe R.G. or Crystal?) or who first said ‘All for Smut and Smut For All’.

LS:  Those sound like some great phone conversations.  I do love the idea of “Smutketeers in Space.”  You four have a new continuality series coming out, the “Wasteland” series. What *are* these stories about? When will they come out and where can we buy them?

The Smutketeers: Our Wasteland Series novellas will be released one per week during the month of May from Samhain Publishing. Here’s the overall blurb, and one for each of our stories:

THE WASTELAND SERIES

Coming from Samhain Publishing in May 2010!

In 2012, the world came to a grinding halt as radiation hit from a massive solar storm. Crops died, animals perished, cities fell, and humans became little more than beasts themselves. Under the threat of starvation, civility was reduced to mere memory. Only the strongest men survived, and physically weaker women and children wasted to nothingness.

More than a century later, humanity struggles in the desert Wasteland. The solar radiation rendered most women infertile, and the population dwindles more with each year that passes. Scattered up and down coasts, isolated cities eke out an existence from fishing, foraging, and hunting for what little game is left. Outside the city walls, men face the threat of pirates and raiders.

Few women remain, divided into four classes: Whores, Breeders, Priestesses, and Wanderers. They are as reviled as they are worshiped, a commodity any man must pay to touch. To touch a Whore, a man must sacrifice his riches. To touch a Breeder, a man must sacrifice his freedom. To touch a Priestess, a man must be chosen by the gods. And to touch a Wanderer may end up costing him his life.

There is only one rule in the Wasteland: survive.

Crystal Jordan~~ Book One: The Wanderer

Lilli Feisty~~Book Two: The Whore

Eden Bradley~~Book Three: The Breeder

R.G. Alexander~~Book Four: The Priestess


Crystal: Here’s the blurb for my book:

WASTELAND: THE WANDERER by Crystal Jordan

Release date: May 4, 2010

Love is the most dangerous experiment of all.

There is only one rule in the Wasteland: survive.

The few remaining women are as reviled as they are worshiped, a commodity any man must pay to touch. And to touch a Wanderer, he may pay with his life.

For Ezra, the risk is worth the reward. People speak his name with the same reverent terror reserved for ancient wrathful gods, but he must always be ready to fend off those who would take what’s his. And what he wants to be his is Kadira.

Kadira, adopted after she witnessed the slaughter of her devoted parents, has vowed never to love or need anyone. It seems only fitting that she, an outsider, accept Ezra’s demand in trade for the fuel technology her clan needs—but her deep, unexpected need for him is the torture she’s fought all her life to avoid. Worse, the greater her wrath, the more he seems to like it.

Ezra’s mercenary half delights at having the warrior woman in his arms. His scientist half can’t resist the urge to see what makes her react—and what makes her explode.

The real experiment: if the bond they forge is strong enough to make her want to stay.

Lilli: And here’s my blurb:

WASTELAND: THE WHORE by Lilli Feisty

Release date: May 11, 2010

Her quest for freedom plunges her into dangerous waters…of desire.

Bryn is a “Rose”, but her life is no garden. A stolen child, prostitution is the only life she’s ever known—except on the nights she sneaks out in stolen men’s clothing to explore the city. A tiny taste of freedom that makes her long for a life outside sexual servitude, at the mercy of any man who can pay.

Xander remembers no other home except his pirate ship, smuggling weapons or anything else for a fee. He’s been happy with his life and his lover, Hawke…until he rescues what he thinks is a young man from robbers.

Figuring she can blend in with the crew, Bryn jumps at the chance to escape the Brothel. Then she discovers Xander and Hawke have a taste for pretty boys—and that she has a taste for them. In their arms, she embraces their incredible gift: control of her own sexuality.

Though women are considered bad luck at sea, Xander isn’t of a mind to give her up. Yet the time is drawing near when the ship must return to Wasteland to resupply. And what awaits them there is a danger that could tear them apart.

Eden: Here’s the blurb for my book:

WASTELAND: THE BREEDER by Eden Bradley

Release date: May 18, 2010

Destined to serve the desires of an entire city, all she wants is one man. Or maybe two…

Born to the Temple, Nitara knows the Great Goddess’s plan for her: to bring life into what is left of an arid and wasted Earth. Since puberty she has been trained to arouse and titillate, to ensure the continuation of the human race.

As is the custom, the man captured for her is strong of blood, though considered little more than a wild animal. Yet when she looks into his eyes, she sees no primitive creature, but the man whose face and hands haunt her sensual dreams.

For Akaash, a hunter and warrior, it’s his shame that he will be sacrificed to a goddess he doesn’t believe in, for a people who are not his own, leaving behind his Wanderer clan—and his bonded lover, Dhatri. Locked in the bowels of the Temple, he has a month to ponder his fate, all while falling helplessly under the spell of the virgin temptress who will soon take his life.

With each tortuously erotic encounter, however, Akaash realizes that Nitara is as much a prisoner as he. If he can just get a message out to Dhatri, there may be a slim chance both of them can escape…

R.G.: Here’s my blurb:

WASTELAND: THE PRIESTESS by R.G. Alexander

Release Date: May 25, 2010

Damn the rules, damn the gods…even if he has to share her, she belongs to him.

High Priestess Xian has followed the Path of the Peaceful Sun since she was chosen at birth. Yet the joy she receives from helping others is overshadowed by her growing belief that the world they live in is…wrong.

At a crossroads, unsure of her ability to do her job—unsure of anything—she journeys to the ruins of the old city, hoping to uncover secrets that will give her clarity. Instead she finds the path to her goal clouded by an unexpected desire for her handsome guard, Hel, and for the battered stranger they find along the way.

Hel can’t prevent Xian from reaching out to the mysterious Siraj, but there is danger in allowing him to stay. Siraj belongs to no caste, follows no rules but his own. And Xian’s fascination with him makes Hel’s blood boil. No one can know that Hel has always loved her, or the secret he’s kept hidden for years. But Siraj’s advances, and Xian’s curiosity, force Hel to cross lines he never before dared…

LS:  Wow, those sound amazing.  What an incredible world and beautiful covers.  These stories are “erotica”, right? What can someone expect when picking up an erotic novel? How are they different from romance novels? Do they have strong characters? Strong stories? Would the “average Jane” enjoy them? (What about the average Joe? Do guys ever read your books?)

Eden: These stories are erotic romance, which means they all end with a happily-ever-after. The difference between erotica and erotic romance is that happily-ever-after, or at least a happily-for-now. While erotica focuses more on personal journey, erotic romance’s main focus is a developing relationship.

The difference between romance and erotic romance is that in erotic romance the sex is a crucial part of the story arc, character development and relationship development. It’s a sort of sub-plot in itself-in well-written erotic romance, anyway. And I believe strong characters and strong stories are crucial to any well-written book. Writing sex doesn’t absolve an author of the need to write a good book. I write very character-driven books, so character development is hugely important to me.

I think erotic fiction has a wide appeal-a lot of women you might never suspect read it. I get a lot of male readers from my appearances on Playboy Radio and I’ve definitely had fan mail from men, although I couldn’t say for sure if they are the ‘average Joe’s’. Maybe I don’t want to know-lol!

Crystal: Yes-mine always have strong characters and very strong stories. We each took a different group or caste of women in these stories so we could develop them and make them very individual and strong. I consider myself the average Jane, and I love them! As for the average Joe, I’ve gotten thank you notes from men-does that count?

Lilli: Sex all by itself is a story. Sex is when you’re the most vulnerable, when you’re the most intimate. Sure, it can also be hot, but when I write sex, it’s more about how my characters react to the sex, and that’s what I find interesting.

R.G.: My husband likes my stories. (But don’t tell him I told you.).

Eden: You know we can’t keep any secrets from him. He knows everything about all of us! R.G.’s husband is an honorary Smutketeer. We use him as a consultant.:)

LS:  Though each of you has your own story, the world is the same, right? How do the stories crossover? Do they need to be read in order? What challenges do you face when writing in a shared world? Was this a new concept for you all?

R.G.: Yes, the world is the same, and one we developed together over a period of nearly a year. It’s almost a snow-ball effect, where each story builds on the other. I wrote the last story in the series, and I tried to pull all the loose threads together. They can be read as stand-alones, but to see the whole tapestry, I vote for reading them in order.

Crystal: I’ve actually done a shared world before. One of the challenges I’ve found is that you can step on each other’s toes when trying to claim your own space, so one of the things we did to avoid that in this series was to share the basic world but each writer’s own caste of women we developed individually. So, there was a shared space, but also an individual space for each writer.

Eden: This is my first shared world. R.G. and I both wrote about the Temple of the Goddess, so we worked very closely together on developing that religion, and while we were writing we checked in with each other pretty much daily by phone and email. R.G. and I both incorporated characters from the Wanderer tribes that Crystal developed, so we made sure to check details with her, and Feisty checked in with each of us, as well. Consistency is crucial when writing a shared world with multiple authors.

I have written futuristic and sort of post-apocalyptic London-although the apocalypse was more a political breakdown-in my Midnight Playground vampire series from Samhain. Book One, THE SEEKING KISS, is out now, and Book Two, Bloodsong, will be out later this year.

Crystal: I’ve written shared worlds before, as well as futuristic and post-apocalyptic, in my books CARNAL DESIRE, UNTAMED, and in a series that is yet to be published (but check the Smutketeers blog for more news coming soon!).

R.G.: And Crystal also wrote futuristic in her novella, IN ICE, which is in Volume V of Kensington Aphrodisia’s Sexy Beast anthology. And that is a must read!

I’ve done alternate universe sci-fi in my books, WHO WANTS TO DATE A SUPERHERO and WHO NEEDS ANOTHER SUPERHERO, available at Ellora’s Cave. Though I haven’t written post-apocalyptic, I write a lot of alternate universe stories based on various world mythologies, especially my Children of the Goddess series, available from Samhain, and my Temptation Unveiled series, also available through Ellora’s Cave.

I had a great time creating the religion for our Wasteland series with Eden, which was based on a compilation of ancient earth myths and religions. I majored in anthropology and minored in mythology and religion, so these subjects fascinates me.

LS:  The idea of a post apocalyptic series is very cool, what gave you the idea to do that? Did one of you come up with the idea and share it with the others or did you come up with it as a group? Was selling the idea a challenge? What about writing in this genre? What difficulties did it pose versus writing contemporary?

R.G.: That was another four-way conversation gone horribly wrong, or horribly right, depending on how you look at it.

Eden: I think it went absolutely right!

Crystal: Was selling the idea a challenge? Hell no-we have the most awesome editor on the planet (luckily we all have the same Samhain editor). The moment we mentioned it to her, she was on board. She is the queen of Armageddon!

I don’t write a lot of contemporary, so for me it was ‘Thank God it wasn’t contemporary!”

Lilli: I write a lot of contemporary, but I have written some paranormals as well. I also love paranormal books and movies. I’m a huge Joss Weiden fangirl, and I think I put a little Firefly into my pirate ship.:) The biggest challenge for me was jumping into a world I didn’t create. While it was fascinating and fun, every once in awhile I had to turn around and go, “where am I?” LOL

Eden: I most often write contemporary, so for me it was a huge challenge. Although I had just written my first vampire futuristic for my Midnight Playground series, I’ve never done this much world-building before. It was hard, but I loved it. It was so much fun to get to write outside my usual box-there’s so much more creativity involved when writing an alternate world. I plan to do it as often as possible!

LS:  I would definitely say this was a conversation right.  So did you have the world first and then come up with your stories? Could you each share a little about your creative process?

Eden: We kind of started with R.G.’s Musketeer psych profiles, then went off from there-which is what usually happens with us. I ended up writing a virgin heroine, which is totally against type for me; obviously we didn’t all stick with those psych profiles. Except for Crystal, who will totally kick anyone’s ass. *G*

I can’t remember how we ended up there. So much of the writing process is a mystery to me, to be honest. My writing process includes a lot of chocolate and the occasional tears. Seriously. I have this Van Gogh-like belief that we must suffer for our art-lol!

Crystal: The process just happens-it’s like magic. And R.G. kept calling to tell us about these end of the world documentaries she was watching, until we figured out exactly what our particular 2012 apocalypse was about.

R.G.: The whole time Eden was writing THE BREEDER, she was totally manic-one day she hated it, the next day she loved it. That’s her process. *G*

Our editor knows a lot about apocalyptic theories, so she was a big influence.

Lilli: These girls did so much world-building, I was lucky. I just opened the door and stepped into the Wasteland. J And then added a few hot pirates and a prostitute. My favorite part was writing little things that referred to the other books. Like, at one point my hero mentions trading with this inventor. The inventor is actually Ezra in Crystal’s book, and you never meet him in mine, but I like how those tiny details tie the individual stories together.

LS:  That sounds very, very cool.  I do love the way they all overlap/interlink.  In the past decade there’s been an explosion of sub-genres. Has this growth made it easier or harder for “out of the box” stories to find homes? Are you excited with the whole movement towards genre-blending? How do you think this will influence the types of stories we’ll see on the shelves?

Eden: I think the publishing industry is more open to ‘out of the box’ story ideas in general, not just in cross-genre. My first Harlequin Spice novel, THE LOVERS (out in January, 2011), has a primary female/female relationship through part of the book, which is very new in erotic romance. I love that some of the publishers are willing to take on different, more challenging material.

LS:  You’re having an event at the upcoming Romantic Times Convention and a contest to promote your series, can you tell me about it?

Eden: We have several things planned for the Romantic Times convention, coming up at the end of April in Columbus, Ohio.

We’re doing another photo shoot, so we’ve been putting together our Steampunk gear. I’m such a costume geek, and I love Steampunk, so I’m in heaven! And we’re having a very special contest for those attending the RT Convention. We’ll be at Club RT to meet and chat with readers on Friday, April 30th from 11AM-12PM. We’re having a drawing, and we’ll dress the winner in Steampunk gear (unless they have their own, of course) to be photographed with us! There will be some other little goodies involved, too. You’ll be able to enter on the Smutketeers blog the week before the convention (we all leave on April 27th)  in case you can’t make the Club RT time, but the winner must be available for us to reach by cell phone at noon that day, and ready to be dressed and photographed at 12:30. We’ll publish photos on the Smutketeer blog. It should be a blast!

LS:  That sounds like so much fun.  I’m very jealous I can’t go, but some of the other Lolitas will be there.  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Eden: Since this is the Steamed blog, I should mention that we’re kicking around an idea for a Steampunk anthology for next year, so stay tuned on the Smutketeers blog for more information! I have a sort of City of Lost Children-ish/cyberpunk idea, but erotic, so not so much the children part…lol! It’s just more about the tone and the vision.

We’ll also be presenting a panel at RT with Samhain managing editor Laurie M. Rauch on Thursday, April 29th from 10AM-11AM, ‘Sextopia, Writing Sex Scenes Across the Ages and Genres’. We’ll be doing some fun giveaways, so if you’re at RT, be sure not to miss it! I’ll also be participating in a reader party on Wednesday afternoon, ‘It’s Fun to Be Bad’, with some of the star authors of erotic romance, as well as last year’s Mr. Romance, Charles Paz! And I’ll be doing a paranormal panel with some truly amazing authors, including the fabulous Mary Janice Davidson on Wednesday morning.

I have a few releases coming up from Samhain. SUMMER SOLSTICE, Book Three in my Celestial Seductions series, will be out this summer, followed in the fall by BLOODSONG, Book Two in my Midnight Playground series. In May my second Harlequin Spice Briefs, NIGHT MOVES, an erotic train story, will be available. And in October I’ll be debuting my first Berkley Heat novel written as Eve Berlin. PLEASURE’S EDGE is a very romantic BDSM-themed erotic story. I’m excited about the new pen name (I write as Eve exclusively for Berkley), and my gorgeous new website: www.EveBerlin.com

R.G.: RT!! I can’t wait!
News, huh? Well I have my first Berkley Heat book, POSSESS ME, coming out August 3rd, I’ve just signed up for a new 3 novella anthology with Berkley Heat for 2011, and I’m finishing up several e-book series with Samhain and Ellora’ Cave. I also currently have a proposal out for an erotic romance series that is-yes-Steampunk! Cross your fingers.

Crystal: I can’t wait to do the RT panel with my girls. This is gonna be tons of fun!

Let’s see…what else do I have coming out? I just signed a new three book deal with Kensington Aphrodisia, so I have sequels to my shape-shifter books UNTAMED and ON THE PROWL in the works. I also have two erotic urban fantasy novels coming out in 2011 and 2012, but they don’t have official titles yet. Lots of magic, sex, tormented characters, and a few werewolf terrorists thrown in to keep things interesting.

In August of this year, I have SEXY BEAST 9 coming out from Kensington, which is about a mercurial woman who twists a stoic shape-shifter king into knots. Then in October, there’s PRIMAL HEAT, where an ancient race of alien shape-shifters come to claim their mates on earth. For e-books, I have a couple of series I’m working on for Samhain Publishing. First, of course, is the WASTELAND story with my Smutketeers. I also have my UNBELIEVABLE series about a naughty guardian angel who helps the truly hopeless cynics fall in love. Then I’m kicking off a series about demon triads that give you a triple dose of smut. Yummy!

Lilli: Yes, our panel is going to be so much fun! I am really looking forward to it. And now that I’ve overcome my fear of speaking in public, I’ve become quite the talker. And you just never know what’s going to come out of my mouth. J I’m currently finishing up a contemporary for Grand Central about an uptight L.A. chef who is forced to work for an earthy gal who isn’t impressed with his “cultured” ways. It’s a really fun book! And, of course, we have our Wasteland series coming out, which was super fun to write. And I’m currently working on a Steampunk series that takes place in Victorian England. The best part is I get to go to Burning Man this year as research. So much cool Steampunk art there! I can’t wait!

LS:  So many great things, wow.  Thank you for taking the time to come visit us today, we really appreciate it!

Smutketeers: Thanks so much for having us! We love visiting the Lolitas!

We hope everyone will visit us on our group blog: www.Smutketeers.com , and on our websites:

www.CrystalJordan.com

www.LillianFeisty.com

www.EdenBradley.com

www.RGAlexander.com


Thank you so much for dropping by today and we hope you come back soon. Yesterday we announced the winner of the Clockwork Couture ensemble contest. If you comment on that post you can also win a copy of issue 6 of Steampunk Tales. Simply Willow and her beautiful jewelery stop by tomorrow, Wednesday, April 21. Young Adult author Scott Westerfeld visits on Thursday, April 22. On Saturday, April 24th we have a very special treat for you, a release party for O.M. Grey’s debut Steampunk novel Avalon Revisited. Come join us for all sorts of fun and mayhem. We’ll be joined by debut young adult author Kate Milford on Sunday, April 25th as Steampunkapalooza continues all April long.

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Today we welcome the extraordinarily talented Leanna Renee Hieber, author of  The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and the newest book in Percy’s saga The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, which comes to bookstores April 27, 2010.  Also, Percy Parker is now going to be a musical!  Isn’t that amazing?

Lolita Suzanne: Hi Leanna, thank you so much for dropping by and helping us celebrate Steampunkapalooza! Your second book is released at the end of the month, how excited are you?

Leanna Renee Hieber: Hello Suzi and esteemed Steamed followers! Thanks for the opportunity to be here! Oh, I am SO excited for the Strangely Beautiful saga to continue I can hardly stand it! The first novel isn’t complete without this one, and I’m thrilled for the pair to be out in the world.

LS: Where did the idea for the “Strangely Beautiful” series come from? What came first, Percy or her world?

LRH: Percy came first. Like an angelic herald, and nothing else would ever be the same.

I’ve always been captivated by the mythos and archetype of the brooding, dark, Gothic hero and what it would take to get inside his head, his heart, and open him up, like shining a ray of sunlight inside. Percy was the answer to that question and to that experiment. Percy is the exact opposite of that Gothic hero archetype and is instead, his foil, and the traditional Gothic heroine (though she contains a few of my own inventions along the way). The first element of Strangely Beautiful came to me in a delirious vision, one night after play rehearsal while I was working terribly long hours as an acting intern for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, nearly 10 years ago.

The 19th century, since childhood, has been my mental playground. So into that familiar setting stepped a death-pale, ghostly, eerie young woman. She walked into Professor Rychman’s grand, richly-appointed office, stared achingly across the room at her brooding professor lit by candlelight. The tension between them was so distinct and so powerful, I was obsessed with them immediately. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to write down any notes, however while driving to rehearsal I recorded a voice memo that began with: “My life has just changed.” And then I described these two characters, and started daydreaming.

I knew from the moment I met Miss Percy that my life would never be the same because of her. I knew she would be the one to launch my career as a novelist. I didn’t know when, how, and I couldn’t know how terribly long it would take, but I knew she was the one.

LS: You mentioned to me once that “Percy Parker” was a labor of love some nine years in the making. Can you tell us a little about the whole process? It’s such a unique blend – a little gothic romance, a little adventure, a little magic…did the story’s uniqueness impact your ability to find a home for it? How would you classify the series, genre-wise, anyway?

LRH: Indeed. It was a long, hard road. I could have likely sold this story more quickly had I made it one genre rather than several, and reconciled the adult with the YA cross-over appeal, but it simply wouldn’t be my style. From agents and editors, I got a lot of “it’s good, but we don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know where to shelve it.” And so I had to wait (after more rejection letters than I care to recount) for an agent and a house who would find my cross-genre nature a strength rather than a hindrance. Dorchester is known for taking chances on distinct new voices, and I landed an agent who was looking specifically for the magical and lyrical voice my book(s) offers. And so I’m living proof that as long as you “know thyself”, and how to brand, even if the branding is cross-genre, you can find a good fit, so long as you persist and stay true to it.

However I must also say that you have to be flexible. The manuscript had countless revisions under my own hand, and then I had two revise-and-resubmit situations, one for my agent, one to gain my contract with Dorchester. These revise-and-resubmit revisions dealt with structure, pacing, and made the book a better book. These revisions did not compromise the book because both agent and editor loved the ideas, characters and tone, and that’s the true identity of a book. So as an author, knowing what can and can’t be changed is important, and being able to be flexible will make you easier to sell and keep selling during your career.

If I could pick one word by which to describe the first Strangely Beautiful, I would call it a Gothic novel. Gothic novels have a precedent for dramatic stories, for the supernatural and paranormal, as well as the fantastical. However in order to let readers know just what they’re in for, and will be in for as the series progresses, I also use all those above adjectives you used. Now it might seem at first like it’s a nonsensical jumble, but what makes these disparate elements work is the Victorian Era itself.

The Victorians were ardent spiritualists, loved ghost stories and the supernatural. Look at the literature of the time, which remains my direct source and inspiration for my work. In addition to the supernatural elements, I use Greek Mythology in my work (while taking great liberties with it). The Victorians were ardent Neo-classicists and referenced mythology in their art, architecture, literature, theatrical revivals, etc. This is the era that birthed the classic “Bulfinch’s Mythology” a standard Greek Mythological enthusiasts continue to use today. And so I pull my themes right from the fascinating Victorian psyche.

I would recommend to anyone looking to genre-blend that they see what precedent might already exist for those disparate elements coming together under a thematic whole.

LS: What’s with the long titles?

LRH: Heh, that’s all my agent’s doing. He suggested a long and descriptive title for the first book to really ‘sell’ the book from word one. And it worked, it got editors’ attention. So now it’s a matter of maintaining the brand with similarly long, descriptive titles. The marketing department both loves and hates this and my titles end up written out in-house as TSBToMPP and TDLFFPP and such.


LS: In the past decade there’s been an explosion of sub-genres. Has this growth made it easier or harder for “out of the box” stories to find homes? Are you excited with the whole movement towards genre-blending? How do you think this will influence the types of stories we’ll see on the shelves?

LRH: I’m so thrilled by the expansion of the genres. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. I can attribute the sale of the Strangely Beautiful series to the growth of sub-genres and thank all my genre foremothers and forefathers for charting brave and wondrous new territory.  I do think the industry, readers and authors are all getting more adventurous. I love weaving genres together into a work I find stronger for the various aspects included, and I think the trends are following that desire. And I’m grateful, because frankly I don’t know how to write a book that isn’t in some way ‘cross-genre’. I think the influence will result in more and more cross-over between genres, which I think is a great thing; so long as authors still stick to the types of stories they themselves love and believe in, and don’t just cross genres haphazardly.

LS: Was “Darkly Luminous” easier or harder to write than “Strangely Beautiful?” Can you tell us anything about what happens in this next installment?

LRH:  Darkly Luminous was easier, in many ways. I was a far more disciplined writer than I was during the process of the first novel. I had the momentum of selling book 1, though it came with the pressure of expectation (and writing a book on deadline for the first time).  There are strange new nerves and neuroses with every new project, so there’s always something different to face and every book will have its obstacles.

But I knew the characters so well that they sort of poured themselves onto the page. We ‘settle in’ to all the characters more in this second installment and see much more of them all, but they don’t get any rest – it’s a high-stakes and high-passion novel. Allowing Percy and Alexi to begin a life together was a special, delicious, sweet, sometimes funny and often difficult exploration. I am endlessly compelled by their dynamic. Darkly Luminous picks up exactly where the first book leaves off and introduces us to Beatrice Tipton, who factors strongly into Strangely Beautiful #3, a prequel. The action rouses to a huge, epic, spectral battle, and where everyone goes from here will be an interesting journey for me to write.

LS:  “Strangely Beautiful 2 ½” comes out in an anthology in the fall, right? Can you tell us a little about it? When will book three be released? How many books do you have planned in the series?

LRH: Indeed! “A Christmas Carroll” (Strangely Beautiful #2.5) will be included in Dorchester’s A MIDWINTER FANTASY (October) and stars Headmistress Thompson and Vicar Michael Carroll.   While Darkly Luminous picks up exactly where the first book left off, so does the novella pick up where Darkly Luminous leaves off, and fills in the gap between the last chapter of Darkly Luminous and the epilogue of Darkly Luminous (which needs some explaining as it’s a bit too tidy without the novella to put those two characters through the necessary ringer to really earn their story).

Book 3 will be a prequel shifting from 1860s Cairo to 1860/70s New York and will feature Beatrice Tipton’s Guard passing the torch to Alexi’s Guard and preparing for Prophecy in ways Alexi and his Guard never know. I deal with “The Goddess” and Phoenix directly as they nearly (and painfully) lose their grip on their plan. Writing the teenage Alexi Rychman (and a teen Elijah Withersby) is proving to be great fun. Book 4 will continue forward in time, crossing the 20th century, focusing on the Rychman family legacy. I don’t have any more Strangely Beautiful books planned after that, though I’d like to give Elijah and Josephine their own novella like Rebecca and Michael have been allowed.

LS:  Do you have any non-Percy projects in the wings?

LRH:  My agent is currently shopping around my Historical Paranormal YA series set in Victorian NYC. *crossing fingers* I’m also doing some neat Fantasy fiction work (with a touch of horror) on a gaming project that’s still in development.
LS:  You’re an actress and a playwright, how does that influence the way you write stories?

LRH:  Absolutely. My process is entirely theatrically related. I think of books like a Cinematographer thinks of setting up a shot, like a Director thinks about making choices about movement, structure and point of view and as an Actor when I think of getting into my characters and their dialogue. I teach a workshop called “Direct Your Book: Theatrical Techniques to a Blockbuster Novel” because I realized I have a unique theatrical perspective to offer in the way I literally see my books and create them.

LS:  Did you always want to be a writer? When was that defining moment, when you sat down and said, “I’m going to do this, no matter what anyone says?”

LRH:  I’ve been writing and telling stories since I can remember. I began my first novel (a Gothic novel, actually, my themes have long been with me) when I was about 12, and tinkered with it for nearly a decade. I earlier described how once I met her, I knew Miss Percy would change my life, but I kept her on the back burner for years as I worked as a professional actress. I moved to New York City to see whether theatre or my books would win out. One day I was in the middle of a Broadway callback and all I could think about was Percy and Alexi. I was terrified to walk away from what I was “trained” to do. Yet I refocused, stopped auditioning and dared a homecoming to what had been that first childhood love-affair; writing books. My contract certainly didn’t happen overnight, as I’ve said, but I knew when I started taking my writing seriously that I made the right decision.


LS:  What sort of writer are you – a pantser? A plotter? Do you write in spurts or slow and steady? Do you like to write to music or in silence. Do you work at a desk or on the couch? (etc…)

LRH:  Cert-i-fied Pant-ser. I plot rough outlines because I (well, and my editor) need some vague idea of where I’m going. As for how to get there, the characters tell me as I go and as I daydream. I need music in the background – something atmospheric, classical, evocative (no words). And I write where ever I have my laptop and the ability to concentrate. Non-negotiable ritual: must have cup(s) of tea on hand.

LS:  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

LRH:  Do you like a good ghost story? Please join me for my Darkly Luminous Haunted London Blog Tour where I’ll be talking about all the real ghost stories I use in my books! All the ghosts in the Strangely Beautiful series thus far, save for the ghostly residents of my fictional Athens Academy, are all documented London haunts. Learn all about them on the tour, starting the day before release day – April 26th – and running release week! Schedule is here: http://www.leannareneehieber.com/haunted-london-blog-tour/ Not only will you hear a neat ghost story and get excerpts from the book, but you can enter to win books – there’s a new giveaway included on every tour stop!

And then, on April 27th, release day, join me via the contest page of my website (http://www.leannareneehieber.com/contests ) to see the neat Darkly Luminous contest I’ll be running through May!  I’m giving away a necklace featured in the book as well as a Barnes & Noble gift certificate – all you have to do is answer an easy Darkly Luminous pop quiz question to enter to win!

I’d love to see you on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/leannarenee

And on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan
LS:  Do you have any upcoming appearances/signings?

LRH:  Yes! I have a ton, I’ll be everywhere this year!  Release day for Darkly Luminous, April 27th I’ll be at my hometown Barnes & Noble in West Chester Ohio, then I’ll be at the RT Book Lover’s Convention, readings in NYC, a Guest Author at the Steampunk World’s Fair, at the Phoenix Comicon, DragonCon and many more – check out my schedule at http://booktour.com/author/leanna-renee-hieber

Lolita Suzanne: Thank you so much for coming by, we really appreciate it, and congratulations on your upcoming release.  I can’t wait to read it.  I’m still squeeing over the idea of you getting to turn your book into a musical, that is just so amazing.  I hope I get to see it one day.

Leanna Renee Hieber: Thanks so much Suzi, fellow Lolitas et al! Strangely Beautiful blessings!

*~*~*~*

I have the results for the Clockwork Couture ensemble contest and will announce the finalists and winner on Saturday, April 17th.  On Saturday we also welcome EJP Creations, who makes Clockhand Tiaras (among other things.  Sunday, April 18th we’ll learn about upcycled designs with Creative Habits.  Monday kicks off an amazing week with John from Steampunk Tales.  Hold on to your fishnets, the Smuttketeers invade Steampunkapalooza on Tuesday, April 20th.  Artist Simply Willow stops by on Wednesday, April 21 and young adult author Scott Westerfeld joins us on April 22, as the guests, prizes, and mayhem continue all month long.

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Our own Lolita Leanna’s The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker has made the Sci-Fi Romance/Paranormal category of the the DABWAHA Smackdown! It’s a contest for the greatest book of 2009 with 64 books total in 8 categories and everyone votes in various rounds until only one winner remains. Voters have the chance to win many great prizes including an iPad. Another Steampunk fave of 2009, Soulless is up in the Urban Fantasy category. There are a lot of great books fighting for the title and I with everyone, especially Lolita Leanna, all the best.

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About a half-dozen of the Steampunk Lolitas (that would be us, lol) went to the Romance Writers of America national conference in Washington DC. I was amazed and honored to be in the company of some amazing, amazing ladies.   The best thing, besides meeting the steampunk ladies in attendance, was finding out that editors and agents are starting to look for steampunk and some major steampunk projects are on the horizon.

The Steampunk Lolitas were up to some great stuff at conference as well. I feel so privileged to be part of a group that has so many great ladies doing so many great things (and that’s just those who came, stay tuned for all sorts of great news).

Steampunk Lolita Deb was the 2009 Librarian of the Year!

Deborah Schneider, 2009 Librarian of the year with Eloisa James

Deborah Schneider, 2009 Librarian of the year with Eloisa James

We had several ladies at the Litteracy Book Signing, which raised over $60,000 for charity!!

Cindy Holby at the book signing

Cindy Holby at the book signing

Liane Gentry Skye at the book signing

Liane Gentry Skye at the book signing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several of the Steampunk Lolitas were nominated for Prism Awards sponsored by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter

 

 

Colby Hodge and Jana Oliver nominees for ther Time Travel category with their agent

Colby Hodge and Jana Oliver, nominees for the Time Travel category, with their agent

Leanna Renee Hieber, nominee in the Novella category with Suzanne

Leanna Renee Hieber, nominee in the Novella category with Suzanne

Colby and Leanna WINNERS of the Prism Award!!
Colby and Leanna WINNERS of the Prism Award!!

 

Leanna was also on the author panel at the Prism Awards where FF&P authors ansewered all our questions.

Leanna on the FF&P author panel

Leanna on the FF&P author panel

Cindy also did a panel on Genre Jumping, which I sadly missed but was heard was great. There were  a lot of amazing workshops, though none on Steampunk. Next year *grin*. I also met the Smutketeers an awesome group of ladies who write steampunk/post apocalyptic erotica.

One of the highlights of the conference was the RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony which is like the Oscars of romance novels. It was truly an elegant affair!

Elizabeth and Suzanne go to the Ritas

Elizabeth and Suzanne go to the Ritas

Okay, I bought the store out of art deco tiaras, but I have one aviator scarf left from the conference. I will give it to one lucky poster!

Have a great week everyone! For more conference adventures check out my my personal blog.

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